To promote renewable energy as a cost-effective technology in a world facing the impact of climate change and global warming, the University of South Africa, diversified miner Exxaro Resources and the South African National Energy Development Institution on Wednesday launched its first institutional anaerobic digester at nonprofit organisation EARTH Centre’s premises, in Johannesburg.
Making use of a sustainable water supply, including grey water, these anaerobic digesters will be used as a source of fuel for cooking in households, schools and community organisations, and will not only vastly improve people’s standard of living but will also help the environment by minimising organic waste.
The digestate can also be used as a source of bio-fertiliser.
The digester at the EARTH Centre, in particular, uses horse manure as a feedstock.
The project is also able to create employment, help mitigate climate change-related challenges, improve the living standards of beneficiaries, facilitate sustainable waste management, enhance the transfer of skills and knowledge and stimulate an interest in renewable energy.
Wednesday’s launch event focussed on a 10 m3 digester that was successfully installed, in June, at the EARTH Centre, which provides holistic therapy to disabled children through programmes with horses.
The digester has been running trouble-free for three months.
With the successful installation of the first institutional digester in the Gauteng province, 19 more are in the pipeline to be installed at a variety of locations, with a particular focus on institutions such as old age homes, early childhood development centres, schools and clinics.
This focus on institutions, Working for Energy GM David Mahuma told Engineering News Online, is because of a higher ratio of people who can benefit from one such system at an institution.
This is not to say that digesters will not be installed at households, he added, these will only be on a smaller scale and in areas where a need has been identified.
Before installations are done, Mahuma explained to Engineering News Online that feasibility studies are conducted to ensure that there is a sustainable environment and water source, as well as a need for the digesters.
He was unable to provide a timeline for the remainder of the institutional installations, saying that this is dependent on where the demand and needs are identified, as well as the result of the feasibility studies.
“In line with our mandate to be an enabler for South Africa to take full advantage of our abundant energy resources, we look forward to more strategic collaborations, which will see more communities being introduced to sustainable and clean energy solutions,” Mahuma said at the event.